Business Insider first reported that the founder of Grantland had to take back his vote of James because of a podcast before the season where he admitted he placed a bet on the Miami Heat star winning the vaunted award.
He has also written numerous columns in which he suggests that LeBron James should and will win the MVP award.
An ESPN spokesperson told Business Insider that Simmons withdrew his MVP vote in order to avoid any conflict of interest.
Bill had never received a ballot before and didn't find out he had one until two-thirds of the season had passed, the statement read. By that time he had made multiple MVP bets, two of which he had discussed on podcasts. He ended up withdrawing his MVP vote to avoid the perception of any conflict.
As Business Insider's Jay Yarow notes in his piece, it represents an interesting dilemma for ESPN. Simmons is one of the company's most popular columnists and now the Editor-in-Chief of its popular spin-off website, but has always been public about gambling.
Simmons has been shielded from any real criticism because he has never pretended to be a true journalist and cover events; though voting on league awards represents some major potential credibility issues for the organization.
ESPN told Business Insider that it has no problems with its employees referencing gambling in ways that are appropriate for their role and relevant to our audience.
That could mean that Simmons has a different set of rules from everyone else at the organization, as some have alleged in the past, or that it's acceptable to discuss bets that one makes. It should be noted that ESPN the Magazine's Editor-in-Chief Chad Millman has his own gambling podcast and is known in the industry for his expertise in Las Vegas gambling circles.